Monday 28 May 2012

Requirements of Cats Kept in the Home

The requirements of cats kept in the home is important in America but less so in Britain for the obvious reason that a lot more cats are kept indoors permanently in America than in Britain. There is a definite culture difference with respect to cat caretaking between the countries. One reason may be that there are more purebred cats in the US and also going outdoors may be more hazardous with respect to predation by wild animals.

However, keeping cats indoors reduces the home range for the cats significantly. It also places individual cats in close proximity to each other. However studies indicate that neutered male and female domestic cats can be housed successfully indoors if there is enough space of sufficient quality and provided the cats have become used to these sorts of conditions from kittenhood. Cats require more space than we think and they need to be able to get away from each other and and out of sight of each other from time to time.

Harmonious group - Photo by Bibi

In one study1 of 14 cats who had 10 square meters of space each, it was found that most of the cats had a favorite spot. Sometimes a spot was shared and sometimes a spot was unique to an individual cat. In sharing places cats lived peacefully together by time sharing these places and thereby avoiding each other.

Male cats have larger home ranges than female cats generally and this is demonstrated in respect of full-time indoor domestic cats. In this study males had ranges of 4-5 rooms while females had ranges of 3-3.6 rooms. Females are therefore slightly more suited to indoor life.

Another scientist2 recommended two resting places for each cat; one on the floor enclosed on three sides (my comment: for a cat to hide and feel safe. What about protection from above?) and the other should be elevated with a good viewpoint (my comment: there is no doubt that cats like high vantage points and can spend long periods on perches). This recommendation is important in preventing behavioral problems in multi-cat households.

In addition, positioning scratching posts or a "scratching surface" (my comment for posts: large, heavy and tall) at places of exit and entry in the home and near sleeping places is helpful. Litter boxes should be in quiet areas. They should be cleaned daily.

Another species of companion animal such as a dog is beneficial provided the cats are socialised to dogs. Elisa, a regular contributor this this website has a dog, Dreyfuss who loves cats and the cats in her home often love him and rest on him. Elisa has a harmonious multi-cat home. Elisa's caring, cat orientated input contributes greatly.

Interactions with the human caretaker are important. Domestic cats are not "adapted to living in close proximity to each other". Moving away and dispersing to avoid aggression is harder for a full-time indoor cat. Cat behavior problems can be due to stressful environmental situations - "social factors". This is a reference to interactions between cats and cats to human.

Related cats are more likely to get on that unrelated cats. Four or more unrelated cats in a house are more likely to have behavioral problems than less cats that are related.

Cats introduced to a multi-cat household are chosen by the owner and these cats may not get on. They may not see each other as part of the same social group and be forced to live in close proximity to each other. This is likely to cause stress.

  1. The Multi-cat Household
  2. Multi-cat Household
  1. Mertens and Schär 1988
  2. Schroll 
  3. Generally: The Welfare of Cats ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1

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